The Pacific Northwest was experiencing its worst flooding in 100 years, and our tiny, miniscule, 11-months per year dry-water channel, had roared into an overflowing tempest. Our log home was sorely threatened as we moved all valuables upstairs and simply waited for the inevitable. At 2 a.m. in the morning, I opened the front door to find rising water just below the jamb. And a few minutes later, I heard an unexpected sound, an approaching large vehicle. Through the maelstrom and darkness, I noticed the backhoe stop on the far side of the “river” and start yanking at the plugged culvert. In an instance, the pipe had been lifted and immediately, the floodwaters abated. Our home was saved.
It took many hours during the next day to learn that our neighbor who had originally placed the culvert, feared it could cause flooding, so he performed his deed of service and utmost kindness.
And so it is out here in the rural lands. Neighbors are hugely important, and whether their politics differs from yous, their land use practices or their demeanor, living in close proximity where dependence on each other is heightened, brings us all together.
When city folk move to the country, they may bring some of their wary city ways with them, but in time those views change. We had a barbed fence separating us from our closest neighbors, and one day Bob magically appeared with wire cutters in his hands and we took down that unuseful barrier together.
Friends nearby on the other side of the Klickitat River heard about a federal stewardship grant program, so they all showed up at a meeting, and due to their pooling of their respective lands and resources, they were given one of the grants and put it to great use creating ponds, planting native vegetation and removing noxious weeds.
We held a community meeting of our closest neighbors to discuss the idea of conservation easements (see previous blog), and to my surprise, all of them expressed interest.
Wildlife, fires, weather and other phenomenan do not respect property boundaries, and with permission we also walk our neighbor’s lands. A decade ago, my dog let out a “somebody’s here” bark, and I looked up on the hill to notice someone I did not recognize walking the hillside. I went up to greet him and it turned out to be someone who grown up here, returning home. It was a lovely moment between old neighbors and new friends ~